I had not readied myself for the upwelling of feelings. I had commanded the appointments, followed through with scheduling and now was returning for a follow-up medical procedure to the initial follow-up medical procedure.

I have attended to many of these similar procedures when my late husband’s diagnosis lingered and continued until his analogous stem cell replacement failed.

I had complained about the wait in the waiting rooms, mumbled under my breath about “cool” receptionists and old magazines and people waiting for your name to be called like a number in line at the deli. This time I was alone for my testing, without my late husband, without being the security for myself, like the security I felt I had lent to him.

There was no need to feel scared or concerned. The procedure was known, the terminology understood and protocol made sense. Rationally I was doing just fine… good grief, there was not a terminal diagnosis, but “RE-grief”came up big time. I viewed the sterile surface in the testing room and my hands got weak. The smell of the alcohol and betadine, made my stomach squizzy. All I wanted to do was crawl up into a warm blanket until it was all over.

It was not my procedure but my body remembering the pain, the languishing waits and the protocols that my late husband had endured. It was followed by my father’s hospitalization and death the following year.

How could I remove these memories from welling up again, when I did not even know they were dormant barely under my skin? How? By making new ones… for myself and for others.

1. Be kind and extra kind to the receptionists.. Think of anxious people that await them each day.

2. Thank staff about “service” that reassured you or other ways they tried to be clear and less clinical.

3. Bring in a few new magazines and leave them for others to view.

4. Smile at others and acknowledge their presence.

5. Take yourself out for lunch, an ice cream or to a bookstore after your appointment. Reward yourself in small ways.

Re-grief is simply re-thinking. Remember how you care for your loved ones and be kind to yourself on your solo protocol days.

Someone told me to go get a drink after my test, but I went and got a huge chocolate cupcake with tons of frosting. Think that will do for today:)

Susan W. Reynolds


Susan Reynolds

Susan W. Reynolds developed her innovative system by combining interior redesign principles with grief recovery methods. Susan is a member of the Association of Design Education and a Certified Physical Therapist. Her training in wellness and ergonomics has given her sensitive insights into the needs of people in grief. She is a consultant to hospices on how interior design can help clients feel comfortable and safe. She speaks at bereavement groups to teach her methods to people who have suffered loss. She helps those in grief visualize how small changes in their surroundings can result in big changes in attitude. After her husband died of cancer after a difficult two-year battle, Susan participated in traditional grief groups. She found that a practical approach worked best for her. She uses her blog, "Room for Change", to present her ideas about the role of ergonomics in grief recovery. The book version of her system reflects input from bereavement coordinators and other specialists in the field of death and dying. Her company, Revival Redesign helps people refresh and enliven their personal space using items they already own and love.

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